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Forensics Resurgence Continues as Morehouse Debaters Earn Three National Championships This Season

(March 27, 2013) -- The Morehouse College Forensics team continues its climb into the nation’s upper tier of collegiate debating after bringing home three national titles during 2012-2013.  Those results follow a successful 2011-2012 season in which they finished 16th nationally.

This comes from a program that is in the midst of resurgence after debating at Morehouse waned in recent years.

"This year’s team versus last year’s team has grown considerably,” said Kenneth Newby ’97, director of the Morehouse College Forensics Program and the team’s coach. “We have largely the same students when it comes to varsity, but they’ve grown.  They aren’t the same debaters. They are better.’

Newby’s debaters won two championships at the Pi Kappa Delta Nationals and another at the Novice Nationals, where they finished first place overall. 

The team also finished first overall in the Georgia Parliamentary Debate Association State Finals for the third consecutive year and won first place overall in the Southeast Regional Debating Championship, which was hosted by Morehouse in February 2013.

Newby, a debate team member when he was a student, was presented the Brightest Star Award at the Pi Kappa Delta Nationals in recognition of his contributions to the art of persuasion.

Two Morehouse debaters, seniors Chris Fortson-Gaines and Byron Granberry, were nominated as All-Americans this year.

The team also was the only squad from a historically black college or university to compete in the World Universities Debating Championships in Berlin, Germany, in December.  Out of 400 teams from 82 countries, the debate team finished in the top half of the field, just missing the final rounds. 

The team has a few matches left over the next month, including an exhibition against Yale University.

Team members are seniors Chris Fortson-Gaines, Nicholas Bacon, Austin Williams, Byron Granberry, Kevin Porter, Jameel Odom, Franklin Kwame Weldon, Anthony Voss; junior Malcolm McCullough; sophomores Emmanuel Waddell, Curtis O’Neal and Raheem Cooper-Thomas; and freshmen Rami Blair, Rodje Malcolm, Ralph Jean and Dorian Kandi.  The team’s volunteer assistant coach is Derrick Reed ’12.

"They’ve gotten better through a lot of hard work and discipline and practice and I’m really proud of their accomplishments,” Newby said.